Ryan Lochte is one of the best Olympic athletes in United States history. And if he were born in a different era, more people might appreciate that.
But the former Florida Gator has been charged with competing during the Michael Phelps era of American swimming, which somehow makes his remarkable 12 Olympic medals seem less amazing when compared to Phelps’ record total of 26.
Competing in the shadow of Phelps has been no easy feat for the 32-year-old, but he has handled it with class and grace. That’s why what happened on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation telecast of last night’s 200 individual medley finals was unfortunate for all involved, even if it was a bit humorous.
In what might have been the final Olympic competition between the two American swimming legends, announcer Elliotte Friedman mixed up the swimming lanes for Phelps and Lochte, and spent the entire race believing that Lochte was Phelps.
Phelps again took the gold in the 200 individual medley. Lochte did not medal in what was considered a disappointing finish.
Since Friedman thought Phelps was Lochte, that created a very awkward television moment:
Very embarrassing moment for the CBC commentators! pic.twitter.com/Ffj2wQVr6O
— Paul Bishop (@yyzpalacefan) August 12, 2016
It’s the fourth consecutive time Phelps has won the event during the Olympics, which is a record.
As for Lochte, he was understandably disappointed following the race. According to For The Win, Lochte said the following to NBC Sports at the conclusion of the race:
“I guess I just didn’t have it tonight,” he said. “I’m kind of bummed but I gave it my all and that’s all you can ask.”
“I’m going to need some time off, just a break mentally and physically and who knows — I might be back.”
Time will tell if Lochte attempts a return to the Olympics in 2020 as a 36 year old, but return or not, Gator nation is undoubtedly proud of his accomplishments to this point.